It recommended that children with co-morbidities — such as certain cancers, congenital heart diseases or juvenile diabetes — should be vaccinated.
Although many countries such as the US, France and Israel provide vaccine to children in the 12-15 age-group, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) released a statement underlining that children are at such a low risk from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that vaccine would offer only a marginal benefit.
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“There is little direct benefit of vaccinating healthy children as the risk of hospitalization or long Covid is miniscule,” said the statement The document further said that public interventions look at risk benefit. “The data on safety of vaccination in children is small and short term. Though rare, myocarditis is a potential risk,” it said. The only “benefit” of vaccinating children is that adults or immunocompromised individuals in close contacts of children are protected.
“Hence universal vaccination of all children is questioned and not advisable,” the committee ruled. However, the UK government is likely to take a call soon.
The UK team’s recommendations seemed to be based on the side-effects of the newer type of vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna that cause heart inflammation in a fraction of people.
Local experts said vaccinating children isn’t an easy question to answer. Apart from scientific data, there also is the Indian reality as far as Covid vaccination is concerned. “The first priority has to be to vaccinate adults with comorbidity,” said Dr Vijay Yewale, who is a member of the Maharashtra state government’s pediatric task force. “We are far, far away from immunising (fully) even 50% of our population,” he said.
Dr Yewale said there are still many unanswered questions vis-à-vis vaccinating children. “It needs to be seen if children getting vaccinated will develop a rare condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC),” he said. MIC is a serious condition that appears to be linked to coronavirus disease, and a small number of children develop MIC about a month after they have suffered from asymptomatic Covid.
Dr Rajeev Jayadevan of the National IMA Task Force on Covid said that the decision to vaccinate is not a black-and-white decision. “The first principle is that children are not little adults. According to data available from across the world, the risk of a child with Covid-19 getting into the Intensive Care Unit is one in half a million. This is a negligible figure,” said Dr Jayadevan, who is based in Kochi.
Courtesy – timesofindia.indiatimes.com